Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why we left Rio de Janeiro

Peter was born and raised in Sao Paulo (to American parents) and always wanted to move back to Brazil someday.  As we were preparing to get married, we had no jobs lined up, no place to live, and no money.  But we were open to moving pretty much anywhere.  We were even considering teaching English in Korea.  When we got offered the jobs in Rio, we were thrilled.  I have traveled a lot and the thought of living in Brazil didn't bother me at all.  In fact, I was excited about it.  I was excited about learning Portuguese and living in Rio.  Plus, I've always loved the jungle.

After the first couple of weeks in Rio, we realized that we would not be staying past that one school year.  Here is why:

The Job
Many things were miscommunicated and we felt misled in many ways.  I don't want to give too many details, since I don't think this blog is an appropriate place to bash former employers... (I will say that a lot of our issues stemmed from disorganization, lack of communication, messed-up finances... and much more...)  We did not want to be associated with that situation any longer.

The Visa
Peter is a Brazilian citizen, so he didn't need to worry about a visa.  I, however, needed a work visa.  And it was a nightmare.  Because I am married to a Brazilian citizen, everyone assumed the process of getting a work visa would be easy.  It was not.  And we had absolutely zero help from anyone.  The school refused to help us in any way (with finances, transportation, translation, etc), I wasn't able to get my visa in time, therefore I didn't end up working for the school... it was all very disappointing.

The Unexpected Expenses
We were not expecting the extremely high cost of living in Rio.  Peter's parents live in Sao Paulo and tried to give us a good example of what to expect, but the cost of living in Rio is even higher than Sao Paulo.  Here's how I like to describe it... imagine dollar store quality at Nordstrom prices.  For everything - silverware, tupperware, pots and pans, pillows, blankets, clothes, toothbrushes, hand soap, etc.  We had to use a lot of our wedding money to pay for flights, apartment stuff, etc.  Because I wasn't able to get my visa in time, I wasn't able to work, which means we were living on one very small salary in a city with a very high cost of living...  We also didn't have a car, which meant we had to use buses or taxis every day.  I had to defer my student loan payments, and we weren't able to save anything.  What a great way to start a marriage, eh?
The Housing
We were promised furnished housing.  This is what our apartment looked like when we moved in.  'Nough said?  (Also it should be noted that our cost of rent was increased by $400/month from what they originally told us before we moved... see above, "The Unexpected Expenses")

Did this come straight from a meth lab?!
Not pictured: The cat hair that was everywhere, even though a cat hadn't lived there for at least 2 years...

Overall we are glad we moved there and had that experience and we don't regret our decision to leave.  I am so glad that I was able to start learning Portuguese.  We both agree that we would LOVE to move back to Rio de Janeiro some day, if we got different jobs and a better place to live.  We might even consider going as missionaries some day.  It is a beautiful, fun, amazing city.  We loved the city, we loved our neighborhood, we loved the Cariocas.  We had a great time exploring the beaches, the architecture, the other historic cities in the state of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.  (You can find links to most of our adventures here.)  

We arrived in Rio excited, with hopes high, and expecting to stay for a long time.  We were very disappointed that we had to leave, but we are also excited for the new adventures that await us.

Should YOU move to Brazil?  My answer is, "YES!"  But make sure you have a great job (contact me to find out which school you shouldn't work at), a safe place to live, and enough money to cover your basic necessities.

Thanks for reading, I know it was a long post!



Travel Tuesday

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cute Crocheted Things

Isn't it fun when you have friends that are good at making things? LOL  I used to love knitting and crocheting but never had the patience to complete any projects.  A few weeks ago my friend, Marie, gave me some cute double-sided oven mitts for and early-birthday/going away present.  She made them to match my kitchen towels, complete with the white stripes:

I was impressed, so I asked her if she could crochet anything else.  She replied that she can crochet pretty much anything.  In fact, she is trying to start a little side business and would love to start taking custom orders.  (I am going to order some coffee/tea cup cozies for Christmas gifts.)

  Here are some examples of things she has made:

Boot Cuffs

Pet Scarves

Baby Booties

Owl Ornament

Beard Beanie

Dog Paw Stockings (She can also make some for cats, with a fish instead of a bone)

Wine Cozy - would be such a cute hostess gift

If you want to order from Marie, go ahead and send her an email at: mjbrown912 (at) gmail (dot) com.  She is willing to take custom orders and will ship anywhere in the U.S.



Friday, July 25, 2014

Reenacting Our Wedding

As many of you know, Peter and I just had our FIRST ANNIVERSARY!  Woohoo!  We made it!  haha!  Actually it seems like we've been married forever, but at the same time, it seems like our wedding was just yesterday.  So much has happened this past year.  Eight days after our wedding we moved to Rio de Janeiro.  A few weeks ago we moved back to the U.S., and in less than 2 weeks we are moving to Alabama.  This California girl might have more culture shock in the deep South than in Brazil!  :)

To celebrate our anniversary, we spent the day in San Diego.  My family lives a couple of hours away from San Diego, in the desert, in the middle of nowhere.  It is expected to reach 115 degrees this week, so we were so grateful for a day in beautiful San Diego.

Get ready for an overload of pictures.  The day was just toooo beautiful.  The sky and water were so blue, the grass so green, the weather absolute perfection.  All of these photos were taken with my phone and remain unfiltered and unprocessed.

I wish it had been so vibrant the day we got married, but, alas, it was a little gray.

The wedding day, one year ago:

The anniversary:

The professional photograph:

The amateur selfies:


Lying on our beach towels and admiring the tree and sky:

Peter prepared a picnic.  It was adorable and yummy:

Our picnic spot:

Our view while picnicing:

After our picnic, we headed over to Seaport Village, which is probably my favorite place in San Diego.  They have amazing little shops, views, and the weather and atmosphere was perfect.

This is a restaurant at Seaport Village, photo from my Instagram.

Another selfie:

A human statue.  We gave him a dollar.

There's a small pond in Seaport Village, and I found these adorable baby ducks hanging out with their mom.  So cute!

I wish my family lived closer than 2 hours to San Diego - I wish they lived IN San Diego!  Wouldn't that be amazing!

We had such a fun anniversary celebration.  Thanks for letting me share my pictures with you.  

Which selfie should we print and frame?



P.S. Who is interested in hearing our "love" story?  We met online and had a long distance relationship while Peter lived in Brazil.  Should I do a post about it?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

5 Tips for Moving to Brazil


I plan on writing an individual post for each of these topics, but in the meantime, here are my top 5 tips for moving to Brazil.

1.  Take care of as much visa stuff as possible before you move.
My experience with getting a visa in country was a nightmare.


2.  When learning the language, be sure to learn the pronunciation first!

Commonly mistaken words

3.  Bring as much as possible - everything there is very expensive.
Two to three times as expensive as in the U.S.  Bring it all yourself! (Especially electronics)

4.  Don't just stick with people from your own country - become friends with Brazilians, ex-pats from other countries, etc.
Brazilians are the most open and friendly people I've ever met.  I also became friends with people from England, Bolivia, Nigeria, and more.

5.  Have lots of adventures!
Most of mine are listed here.





Travel Tuesday

Like I said above, I do plan on writing more about each of these topics, but I just haven't had time yet.  Today Peter and I are off to celebrate our anniversary... better late than never, right?



Monday, July 21, 2014


This is not a sponsored post.

If you're a seasoned blogger, you may have already heard of Unsplash.  It's a website that provides "Free (do whatever you want) hi-resolution photos."  They're great for making blog images (I used some here) or for printing and using as art in your home.  They have a wide variety, from oceans to cities, people to countryside.

There are so many good ones to choose from.  I would love to (and just might) frame and display some of these:

I could go on and on and on...

This is not a sponsored post, but I highly encourage you to have a look around the site.  Let me know which ones are your favorite!